A Logical Faith

By Nancy Pearcey
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Yuri Arcurs / PeopleImages.com
Why your teen's college prep should include an understanding of the Christian worldview

A mother choked back tears as she related the heartbreaking news. Her son Miko, studying at a state university, had abandoned his Christian faith. Miko’s major was psychology, a field where most theories are secular and often hostile to a Christian worldview. (Early 20th-century psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud set the tone, treating Christianity as a symptom of emotional immaturity.)

Miko came from a loving, Christian home. Yet he was completely unprepared for the challenges of the university classroom. How can parents equip teens to keep their Christian convictions when they leave home?

Why young people lose their faith

Miko is not alone. When researchers asked why young people left their religion, they were surprised to discover that the reason given most frequently was doubt and unanswered questions. They expected to hear stories of emotional wounding and broken relationships. But instead, these young adults were simply not getting their questions answered.

That was my story, too. Proponents of secular ideas — teachers, textbooks and friends — surrounded me in high school. I began to wonder, How can we know Christianity is true? Tragically, none of the adults in my life offered answers. Eventually I decided Christianity must not have any answers, and I became an agnostic.

Later I stumbled upon L’Abri, the ministry of Francis Schaeffer in Switzerland. For the first time, I met Christians who could intelligently rebut the secular “isms,” such as atheism, materialism and pluralism, which I had absorbed.

Can busy parents effectively teach their children to answer the secular “isms”? Yes, and the good news is that Scripture provides two basic principles that make the job easier — principles you can use to evaluate any worldview your teens encounter.

Principle No. 1: Cause equals effect

Evidence for God is “clearly perceived” in creation (Romans 1:20). We typically think this means the beauty and complexity of nature. But it also means humanity. You and I are part of the created order, and we, too, give evidence for God’s existence.

How? Think of it this way: A cause must be equal to the effect. Because humans are capable of choosing, the first cause that created them must have a will. Because humans are capable of thinking, the cause that created them must have a mind. As one Christian philosopher summed it up, because a human is a someone and not a something, the source of human life must also be a Someone and not the blind, automatic forces of nature.

The beauty of this argument is that you don’t have to believe the Bible to see that it makes sense. This logic can be effective if your teens are having doubts or are facing questions from their secular friends. The case for a creator fits our experience of human nature — what we all know about ourselves.

Principle No. 2: Creation is not the Creator

When we do not accept God’s existence, we’ve “exchanged the glory of the immortal God” for something in creation (Romans 1:23). We create idols.

An idol can be defined as anything put in the place of God as the ultimate reality. The prevailing philosophy in the academic world today is materialism, which puts matter in the role of God as the eternal, uncreated, self-existent source of everything.

The psychologists that Miko studied — Freud, Pavlov, Skinner — were all materialists. To be consistent, materialism must deny the reality of anything that is not material. It reduces humans to complex biochemical machines: robots with no free will, mind, soul or spirit. Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins says humans are “survival machines — robot vehicles blindly programmed” by their genes.

But as we see from principle No. 1, such a simplistic, one-dimensional view does not fit what we know about ourselves and our human will. No one lives like a robot. We make choices daily. Again, you don’t have to believe the Bible to recognize that materialism does not match reality.

Discussing these two principles with your teens is a great starting place to help break the tragic pattern of young people who leave home and lose their faith. We can help our teens understand how these biblical principles equip them to confront any worldview they may encounter in the classroom.

Nancy Pearcey is a professor of apologetics and a scholar-in-residence at Houston Baptist University and the author of Finding Truth: 5 principles for unmasking atheism, secularism, and other god substitutes.

Copyright © 2016 by Nancy Pearcey. Used by permission.

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Nancy Pearcey

Nancy Pearcey, editor-at- large of The Pearcey Report, is scholar in residence and professor at Houston Baptist University. She is also a fellow at the Discovery Institute. Previously, Nancy was the Francis A. Schaeffer Scholar at the World Journalism Institute, where she taught a worldview course based on her book Total Truth, winner of the 2005 ECPA Gold Medallion Award …

You May Also Like

Thank you [field id="first_name"] for signing up to get the free downloads of the Marrying Well Guides. 

Click the image below to access your guide and learn about the counter-cultural, biblical concepts of intentionality, purity, community and Christian compatibility.

(For best results use IE 8 or higher, Firefox, Chrome or Safari)

To stay up-to-date with the latest from Boundless, sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter.


If you have any comments or questions about the information included in the Guide, please send them to [email protected]

Click here to return to Boundless

Focus on the Family

Thank you for submitting this form. You will hear from us soon. 

The Daily Citizen

The Daily Citizen from Focus on the Family exists to be your most trustworthy news source. Our team of analysts is devoted to giving you timely and relevant analysis of current events and cultural trends – all from a biblical worldview – so that you can be inspired and assured that the information you share with others comes from a reliable source.

Alive to Thrive is a biblical guide to preventing teen suicide. Anyone who interacts with teens can learn how to help prevent suicidal thinking through sound practical and clinical advice, and more importantly, biblical principles that will provide a young person with hope in Christ.

Bring Your Bible to School Day Logo Lockup with the Words Beneath

Every year on Bring Your Bible to School Day, students across the nation celebrate religious freedom and share God’s love with their friends. This event is designed to empower students to express their belief in the truth of God’s Word–and to do so in a respectful way that demonstrates the love of Christ.

Focus on the Family’s® Foster Care and Adoption program focuses on two main areas:

  • Wait No More events, which educate and empower families to help waiting kids in foster care

  • Post-placement resources for foster and adoptive families

Christian Counselors Network

Find Christian Counselors, Marriage & Family Therapists, Psychologists, Social Workers and Psychiatrists near you! Search by location, name or specialty to find professionals in Focus on the Family’s Christian Counselors Network who are eager to assist you.

Boundless is a Focus on the Family community for Christian young adults who want to pursue faith, relationships and adulthood with confidence and joy.

Through reviews, articles and discussions, Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live.

Have you been looking for a way to build your child’s faith in a fun and exciting way?
Adventures in Odyssey® audio dramas will do just that. Through original audio stories brought to life by actors who make you feel like part of the experience; these fictional, character-building dramas use storytelling to teach lasting truths.

Focus on the Family’s Hope Restored all-inclusive intensives offer marriage counseling for couples who are facing an extreme crisis in their marriage, and who may even feel they are headed for divorce.